DETROIT LIONS DAILY UPDATE FOR MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2007

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TODAY'S NEWS

  • Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli held his weekly press conference and the players were off today after Sunday's impressive 44-7 victory over the Denver Broncos. The players will return to the team's headquarters and training facility in Allen Park on Wednesday to begin on-field preparation for the Arizona Cardinals.
  • According to Stats, Inc., the Lions 90 points-off-takeaways leads the NFL. Also, with four takeaways against the Broncos (11/4), the Lions currently rank first in the NFL in takeaways (24) and in interceptions (14). The Lions are also tied for first with Minnesota in forced fumbles (13) and with Minnesota and Carolina in fumble recoveries (11). The Lions have forced four or more turnovers in three games so far this season (9/16 vs. Min, 10/28 at Chi and 11/4 vs. Den).
  • With K Jason Hanson's 14 points (3 FG's and five PAT's) vs. Denver (11/4) he has moved into 11th place on the NFL all-time scoring list, surpassing Eddie Murray (1,594). His 1,605 points leave him just four points shy of moving ahead of Lou Groza (1,608) for 10th all time.
  • Lions' DT Shaun Rogers loomed large in the Lions 44-7 win yesterday against the Broncos (11/4) and helped set the pace for the defense as he set a new career high with 2.5 sacks (15 yards loss). He now has 4.5 sacks on the season. Rogers also recorded 3 tackles (2 solo) according to press box statistics. In the fourth quarter, Rogers, intercepted a pass from Broncos QB Patrick Ramsey and rumbled 66 yards for his second career return TD. It was his first career interception. On the play, he grabbed the pass in mid-air and pushed away Broncos RB Selvin Young before he leaped into the endzone.
  • Lions' running back Kevin Jones has been selected as the Detroit Lions' 2007 recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, which recognizes men of courage in the NFL. The East Side Athletic Club of Baltimore presents the award annually to an individual from each of the 32 league organizations. Jones will be honored locally at the Detroit Lions Courage House Dinner, Tuesday, November 13, at Ford Field. The national Ed Block Courage Award Dinner to honor Jones and 31 other NFL recipients will be held early next year in Baltimore. The award is named in honor of the late Ed Block, former trainer for the Baltimore Colts, who devoted much of his time and money helping abused children. Tickets are still available for the Lions' Courage House Dinner, Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Ford Field. For ticket information or to make reservations, call 313-216-4171. Individual tickets are $200.
  • The Detroit Lions travel west to take on the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday, November 11 at 4:15 p.m. ET. Detroit, who is looking to win their fourth straight game for the first time since 1999, hopes to improve to 7-2 on the season after an impressive 44-7 victory over the Denver Broncos last weekend at Ford Field. The Lions have not started the regular season 7-2 since 1993. Arizona (3-5) traveled to Tampa Bay last weekend and lost, 17-10. This week's game will be televised on FOX Channel with Ron Pitts handling play-by-play, Tony Boselli adding color commentary and Kevin McCabe reporting from the sidelines. The game will also be broadcast on the Lions Radio Network with announcer Dan Miller handling play-by-play, Jim Brandstatter adding color commentary and Tony Ortiz reporting from the sideline.

LIONS HEAD COACH ROD MARINELLI MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "An update again from injuries: Dewayne White with a triceps, we'll wait and see how that looks; Jonathan Scott with that hand and we'll get those x-rayed and find out a little bit more by tomorrow and by Wednesday.

"Just overall off of watching the tape really quick, like I said last night it was a team effort in all three areas and coaches included. I thought they did a heck of a job, but we still have a long ways to go. As you watch the tape we've got a lot of areas to improve, they have to understand that and we have to keep hammering that away. I thought our defense in particular played well, especially the fundamentals, the re-routes, the tackling was good. The run fits were excellent. We were very, very physical and that's the part I'm very pleased with. That's something we have to make sure we do week in and week out.

"In particular, I thought Shaun Rogers obviously had the splash plays, but more importantly the consistency he is playing with down in and down out. It's so important. That pressure he is putting on and he's been playing really good one-gap football as a cocked (nose-tackle). I thought Ernie Sims and Travis Fisher both really had excellent games. The whole defense gelled together, but these guys really stood out and did a heck of a job for us.

"Offensively, I still believe the best is ahead of us. I know that. We are running the ball a little bit better, and we're throwing the ball well. The biggest thing that we're doing is, (Kitna) is doing a great job, I think four of the last five games we have not thrown an interception. That is winning football. That's team football; you take the ball away and don't give it away and score when you do that. We're doing a nice job with that. I thought our offensive line the last three weeks is really starting to gel. They are playing very well. We just have to keep that going, keep improving and I think we'll be in good shape. The turnover/takeover margin has been good. We're up plus-8 right now, and that's something we want to do. The penalties are down, so I just have to keep hammering that part of it and make sure I stay nagging on them in terms of those areas.

"Special teams I thought were solid. I'm really pleased with our field goal rush. I think we're No. 1 in the league right now in percentages. A lot of that is inside push and those inside guys doing a nice job. Nick the punter, I thought did a really good job. He really did a nice (job). Those two punts he put inside, down inside the 20 led to 14 points. We had a three-and-out and went down and scored. The next time we had a sack-fumble for a touchdown. He is a weapon."

"And again I'd like to make sure I always thank our fans. That place is really becoming a pit. It's loud, offenses are jumping offside; field goals are tough to get early in the game. The energy in the stadium is incredible, it really is. If you could be down there and feel that energy - even a half-hour before the game you can feel the energy. It's our job to keep them in it. We just have to keep doing our job."
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On how he looks at the first half of the season: "Well, we're 6-2. That part is good. The most important thing I think in the first half has been the fundamentals. The improvement: if we can just keep improving our fundamentals and protecting the ball. I think if we stay on top of those things and keep preparing we'll have a chance to play very well this week."

On why he gave the players the day off this week: "One, I felt it was probably pretty good to get away from me. I'm serious. You guys do too. I felt that was important because it's a continuous grind I'll go at. It's something I think they've earned - just to get away for 48 hours. I want them coming back and knocking the doors down and anxious to get ready to go again. It was amazing we had a lot of guys coming in today on their own; coming in to watch tape, lift, do all those things."

On the day off being a strategic thing and a reward: "Probably a little bit of both. They have been playing so hard with the pressure on them, and I have a tendency to really put pressure on these guys, a lot of pressure. I think it's not so much physically as I think it is mentally right now. Just to get away for 48 hours, then we'll come back Wednesday ready to go."

On if the players have earned his trust that they won't abuse their time off: "Oh yeah. That's all part of it. If I didn't trust them there is no way I would do this, no way."

On if he is tougher on his team after wins: "I think I'm just consistent. I don't try to be tougher win or loss. I just try to be the same. We all demand excellence; we demand attention, details, doing things right if it's a win or a loss. It doesn't matter to me. As soon as I vary, I'm inconsistent."

On how important it has been for the players to buy into his message: "It is (important). The thing is your message has to be simple and be able to be communicated correctly and be in a phrase where they understand it. Basically, I'm saying the same thing every week. I just say it differently or use different themes or different ways to get the same message across while trying to create a good teaching environment. I'm just going to keep teaching what we do because I believe in it. That's the thing: it's easy to do it because that's my belief."

On making sure the team doesn't get over confident: "We're going to crank it up on Wednesday (with) the same expectations. We have really good strong captains here. I've never been around a group of guys like this in my career in terms of captains. We had some great ones in Tampa too on that Super Bowl run, they were very strong. They are very similar and they demand from their teammates. They are in that position; they voted for these guys because they are strong and that helps a lot for the team.

"No, I'm not going to do anything different, we just have to go in. It's going to come down to Wednesday coming in and making sure we're on top of our fundamentals."

On if the team has exceeded his expectations: "They know what our expectations are. I've got very high (expectations), and it's a team thing. They know what I want from them. I want to keep that level high. That bar is high. Have they got there? No, and that bar is high. You have to set them high. Just like I was saying last night, for people to reach those types of heights that you want for them, you have to set that bar high. I've set it high. Its one thing just setting it, two is driving them to get there. That's what they want. That's what they want and they do. It's our job to make sure they get what they want. That's all part of it."

On the biggest on-field difference from last year: "The areas I think you always look at are defensively for example, three areas I would look at are our turnovers, our taking the ball away. That's one thing, but we're doing something with it: our offense scores. That's a team. Then our run fits, I think it all starts with that - how physical we're playing. Our yards-per-carry, we're 11th in the league right now or somewhere around there. Our yards-per-carry is really good. Then our sacks-per-attempt. Those areas are growing. I've been really pleased offensively with our yards-per-carry in the run. We're doing a nice job there, and how we're protecting the football. We're going to move the ball. There is no doubt in my mind. We line up moving the ball. It's protecting the ball and once we do that, and we've been doing that, and eliminating the penalties now we're in good shape. Special teams wise, Stan (Kwan) is doing a heck of a job. One thing I have always believed in special teams is in terms of the return game is no penalties. I would take a great returner out of there and not have the penalty because you never start inside-the-20. In our return game we've had one penalty this year in terms of eight games. We've had one penalty in our kicking game in the return part of it so you're not going backwards."

On the penalties being 2-1 in favor of the Lions at Ford Field: "I know our intensity is very high. It shouldn't change going on the road or being at home. It should be the same; it's human nature. I think it's the fans. The atmosphere they create and I think the focus. My message is not to be just emotionally charged; it's taking your emotion and directing your emotion. If you are highly emotional then direct it into fundamentals and details and assignments, those things. Then you'll play really good when you're emotionally charged. I think that part is the fans. They're doing a great job. Now we are directing it, and we're not getting penalties. We're playing smart, and for us to be a good team this year we have to continue protecting the ball, taking it, and penalties."

On if he told the team they could be elite last year: "No, it was this offseason. I could see it. I just, I can feel it. You get there, and I see the attitude. To me, I've said it forever: in this game, football, you can go farther in football than any other sport with toughness. Toughness, in football, because it's in the fourth quarter; it's doing what you're supposed to do. It's being physical. It's hitting, those things; I could see this team, they had that. I could feel it. I know we have talent. We've got good talent. I just felt, if we could come together as a team and play team football and not turn it over, take it away, have a great kicker and a great punter - start with those - play run defense, then I thought we'd have a chance to be an elite team, because I think our talent is good enough. We've just got to play together."

On when he first voiced that to them: "I can't remember that. But that's what I felt we could be. You have to tell them. You can't be scared to say that. People (say), 'Oh, well I don't want to say that, and then everybody is going to measure me towards that.' Who cares - I could care less. I just say what I mean. I say it, and I go."

On the team's talent: "I like our talent. Our wide receivers, I think, are as talented as anybody in the league. We've got, really, a talented defensive front. Not every position is going to be 'A' talent; no team in the league has that. We've got one of the most talented pair of kicker and punter that there is in football. Those two guys, they're dynamite. I love our quarterback, because he's tough and he's talented. There's enough here. Every team in the league, for the most part, is all pretty equal, I believe. The thing that separates it is the toughness and the character, wanting to play."

On other teams noticing the Lions' progress: "It's something I've said to you men all the time, and ladies: it's your tape in this league. You are your tape. That's all you are, is your tape. Whatever you produce on a tape, it goes out to 31 other teams, and that's all we are. Everything else is just words. It's all words, all talk. It doesn't mean anything. It means zero. What do you put on the tape, and what does another team look at. They look at 'They're good' or 'They're not good.' I'm evaluated and this building is evaluated on what we produce on a tape. That's what makes our game special for me."

On if he agrees that the coffin corner punt is a lost art and what pinning an opponent close to the goal line does for a defense: "One, it is a lost art. That guy (Nick Harris) has got ability. These two guys, this kicker and punter of ours, they kick a ball like we throw a ball. It's amazing the control they have. He gets that spin on it, and it'll take a right. Especially at home, (pinning an opponent close to the goal line is valuable), because the crowd is right on top of that offense. They can't hear. You get them in that corner, and it is so loud down there. Now you've got a chance to get a three-and-out, a short field for our offense. We went and scored. The next time, we got a sack-fumble. A big part of that is our fans at home. One is execution, getting the punt in there, execution on defense and then how loud it is. But it's big. Field position, to me, is everything in this league. That's why our kicker and our punter are so valuable."

On DT Shaun Rogers' interception: "Everybody was (excited). Shaun is playing at a very high level right now. The only game (he didn't perform well in), and it was all of us, in the Philly game, me included. But, other than that, he has really played at a very high level. He's gotten some splash plays. He had a lot of splash plays yesterday. It was special. To see a big man run like that, it shows you his athleticism and how fast he really is. He is fast. His awareness -he looked up at that screen; he knew where that guy was at to be able to put a stiff-arm on him. It was a great football play. He's a dominant defensive player in this league."

On how much he enjoys seeing his players have fun: "I've repeatedly talked to them about, when we come in on Wednesday, it's preparation. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, we prepare and then the test on Sunday is easy. The test should be just fun if you've prepared. The worst thing is to not prepare. Then the test is not good, because you don't know the answers. When you don't know the answers, you don't play well. So I keep working to try to sell them the preparation, every single day. Then we can go out and have a ball, let our talent go."

On where Rogers ranks in terms of talent among all the great defensive players he's coached: "As good as any of them. There's no doubt, as talented as any of them, and he's playing that way."

On why everything has come together for Rogers: "I just think he's working at it. I think the cocked-nose (tackle) is really a good position for him, too. We can get him into a Bear front - head up on the center - and go to double-threes with our end in our other three, isolate him every once in a while. Now, that center is on an island, we can put him on an island in a Bear front. I like where he's at in his position. He's becoming a good pass rusher. He's a big part of winning for us right now, and I think he knows that. I think for us to continue winning, he's got to continue to play well."

On putting Rogers at end on select plays: "Very select."

On if the team has bought more into the idea of preparation: "I think as it goes, what I've been used to, the better they see them becoming, they're here longer. Every detail, they know every detail matters. They'll continue to work and prepare, but we have to be the same in our approach as a staff and demand the little things. They want to be good now. This team wants to be very good. They've got a chance to be very good."